About Me

My name is Emily and I live in rural Maine with my husband, two teenaged boys, three dogs, four parakeets and a bunch of cute fish.

I love animals and science.  I was trained as a veterinarian and also spent many years teaching general biology at a local community college.

Two of my three dogs: Padawan and Monkeypants.
The third dog: Zelda.
When I was little, I was more interested in plastic horses than I was in dolls.  I had a huge collection of model horses (mostly from the Breyer company), and those figures still hold a special place in my heart...and make occasional appearances on the blog.


I did have some dolls when I was a child, though--don't get me wrong.  My sister and I each had a collection of Madame Alexander dolls, but we weren't allowed to play with most of them.

Here is one of my sister's old Madame Alexander dolls, "Poor Cinderella," in her original rag dress (left) and in a gorgeous ball gown (right) that my mother made for her:


Ever since I was a pretty young kid I've had an obsession with redheads (I wanted to be one) and a strong affinity for the Cinderella story (I wanted to be her).  So, given that my sister's old Madame Alexander doll is a redheaded Cinderella (which is rare!) can you imagine how badly I used to wish that she was mine?  I never got to play with her as a child, but my sister eventually surrendered her to me when we both moved away from home.  Better late than never.

The dolls I actually played with were mostly Mattel's Sunshine Family, the Mego Corp Wizard of Oz Glinda and Dorothy, and the plastic Jay and Josie figures by Marx.  Here's a picture I took when I was a kid, showing Mego Glinda (in Dorothy's dress) petting one of my Breyer model horses.  Marx Jay is in the background wrangling a mustang:


Here is the doll family from my childhood as they look now:

Jinny, Daniel, and their "twins"--the Sunshine family baby
and a little vinyl baby from Germany
They're a little worse for wear these days--but they got played with a lot.  The twins have lost some of their clothes over the years, and Jinny has lost a lot of hair.

To me, he was devilishly handsome and she was an unrivaled beauty.

I also had a few Sasha dolls that I bought for myself in Edinburgh, Scotland (where my family lived for a few years).

Sasha doll "Velvet."
My favorite doll, and my close companion, was Madame Alexander's baby Victoria:

Me with Victoria.
I like to think that I inherited my fondness for dolls from my wonderful grandmother.  She had a great appreciation for dolls and would travel to her local toy store once a year to pick out a new addition to her modest collection.  I loved to sit on her bed and gaze at her eclectic assortment of dolls and figures.  She didn't have any brand or style preferences, but cherished any character that reminded her of me or my sister.

I did inherit a few of my grandmother's dolls, including several Hummel figures.  This one is called "Homeward Bound:"


But of course to my grandma, the two little girls were me and my sister.

I also have my grandmother's Effanbee rag doll, who she named "Effie."  Effie had a cute baby sister, "Bea," but she was lost.

Effie represented my older sister, Bea was me.
Around the time my boys were born, I became very interested in baby dolls. I'll never forget the disbelief I felt when I saw Catariena Teunissen's vinyl Zapf twins Lilian and Vivian, or Linda Webb's Ashton Drake prototype for Baby Emily.  I didn't think it was possible to make such incredibly realistic baby dolls.

Webb's "Baby Emily" in silicone by Ashton Drake--redressed.
Zapf "Lilian" by Catariena Teunissen.  Redressed in BabyGap.
I found a few favorite artists and followed their work.  My most beloved baby dolls are older glass-eyed treasures from Gotz, Zapf and Sigikid.  Few modern companies are making baby dolls to this standard anymore.

Below is Didy Jacobsen's big vinyl Gotz baby, "Timo." To Timo's left is a smaller one-of-a-kind original art baby sculpted out of clay by Didy Jacobsen herself.
  
OOAK clay baby, "Stephanie," and Gotz vinyl baby, "Timo" (redressed).
I managed to buy Stephanie for under $200 when this style of doll fell out of favor.  To me, she is priceless.

I tried my hand at sculpting my own clay dolls for a while, focusing mostly on goofy, grinning caricatures of my two children.  One of my dolls was reproduced in vinyl for Masterpiece, but the poor thing was ridiculously unpopular.  I requested that the original sculpture be returned to me from Germany so that I could patch him up and keep him:


It was a neat experience to have a doll replicated and mass-produced, and I learned a lot about doll manufacturing and quality control along the way.

I amassed a pretty large collection of vinyl and clay baby dolls.  I suppose this collecting frenzy started as an attempt to hang on to the incredible experience of having real babies.  Dolls aren't even remotely close to being as amazing as real kids, of course, but the more I learned about the art of baby dolls, the more interested I became in dolls for their own sake.

As my boys got older, my interests switched to Annette Himstedt's larger child dolls. I purchased one of Ms. Himstedt's highly articulated club dolls, Fina, because for some reason she reminded me of my sister:

Himstedt "Fina" with her Kleine doll.
Annette Himstedt stopped making vinyl dolls in 2009, which was probably a good thing for me because the dolls were becoming prohibitively expensive.  I feel very fortunate to have a few of these special dolls in my collection.  My favorite is Ntathi:

Himstedt's Ntathi (redressed) from 2005.
When my eldest son was about seven years old, I discovered Tonner's 16-inch fashion dolls.  I bought Glinda from 2005 The Wizard of Oz collection first because she was like a fancy, large version of my old Mego Corp Glinda.  Tonner's Matt O'Neill reminded me of my old Marx Jay doll.

Here is the doll family from my childhood--upgraded to Tonner doll characters (with only one fully-clothed baby):

Jinny, Daniel, and their Ashton Drake baby.
Ashton Drake "Good As Gold."
It was only a few years later that Tonner made his first 16-inch Cinderella doll...and I was hopelessly hooked.

Tonner's "Dreams Come True" Cinderella.
Mr. Tonner even made a few redheaded characters with this beautiful Cinderella face sculpt.  Even though some of the Cinderella-faced dolls were given different names (below is Christine Daae from Phantom of the Opera), to me, they were all Cinderella.

Tonner's Christine Daae holding Basic Patsyette (redressed).
When we first moved to Maine in 2006, I went through a short resin ball jointed doll (BJD) phase.  I love the ethereal faces on some of these dolls, and of course I think their articulation is incredible.  For a while I imagined using BJDs to re-create the characters from The Legend of Zelda video games (a favorite in my house).

Unidoll's Feanor was to be Link, with a My Twinn horse serving as Epona:


And a Limwha half-elf seemed like the perfect Princess Zelda...but my sewing skills never quite rose to the challenge:


BJDs can be fragile, expensive, and tricky to maintain.  I found that collecting them was a little too stressful for me.  I still love looking at pictures of other people's beautiful ball jointed dolls, but I no longer collect them myself.

I never paid much attention to play dolls until 2010 when Spin Master introduced the Liv line. I was amazed by the incredible articulation offered by this inexpensive doll. For $20, I felt like I was getting a lot of the same type of fun and customization potential that the expensive BJDs offered...with none of the stress.

And with horses!



Liv horse Nutmeg.
As an adult, I've had more fun with these dolls than I ever would have thought possible.

Hayden's House playset.

Liv Hayden as a Fin Fun mermaid.
Once I started to notice the play doll aisles of nearby stores, though, my passion for dolls began to expand at a furious rate.  I discovered that dolls don't have to cost hundreds of dollars to be interesting and wonderful.  Now I find that I love learning about almost any kind of doll in any price range.

Certain trends in my doll preferences persist from childhood, though...like my love for redheads:

A Girl For All Time's Clementine.
Bratzillaz Meygana Broomstix.
Ever After High's Holly and Poppy O'Hair.
My fondness for Cinderella:

Cinderella and the Prince from the Disney Store.
My obsession with horses:


And even a bit of biology teaching and science every now-and-again:

Rubens Barn Moss doll.
Project Mc2 McKeyla and her lava light.
One thing that has bothered me throughout all of my years as a doll collector is that it's difficult to find detailed, honest reviews of dolls--no matter the price range.

There are a lot of compensated endorsements for play dolls and a lot of passion for specific brands or styles of doll on various forums, but these reviews seldom offer the information I'm hoping to find. Whether I'm buying a $20 play doll or an $800 art doll, I want to know what I'm getting.

My doll collecting years are riddled with disappointments--some minor and some pretty huge.

The angry-faced Beatrix Girls Lark.
Vi and Va's elephant-footed Viviana doll.
A badly-stained Puppy Surprise pup.
The faded eyes on an 18-inch My Twinn doll.
In 2012, I decided that I would contribute to the online review situation by offering up pictures, details and thoughts about as many dolls as I could.  I'm very opinionated, but my intent here is not to force my opinions on anyone.  I simply want to provide information and analysis that might be helpful in navigating the wide array of doll options on the market.

The more reviews I write, though, the more I realize that dolls are an incredible and unique form of art.  Not only are they sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, realistic or unique...

Dianna Effner's Little Darling painted by Geri Uribe.
Superdoll's Sybarite Swallow.
Phicen's Super Flexible Seamless 1:6 Figure.
Zwergnase Junior Ivanca.
...but they also speak about us as individuals and as a society.

They provide fuel for our imaginations, and give us a way to continue our favorite stories from movies and television shows.

Periwinkle from The Secret of the Wings.
Characters from Doc McStuffins.
 Lonnie from Disney's Descendants movie.
They give rise to favorite childhood games...and then offer an everlasting reminder of those times and those games.

A Horsman Baby Dimples doll with my old friend Victoria.

Blueberry Muffin dolls.
They give us an outlet for nurturing, and help us understand other people and other cultures.

A My Salon Doll with washable hair.

My Twinn Annie with Extra Special Grace.
They can calm our insecurities and fears...

McFarlane's Daryl Dixon takes on Once Upon a Zombie's Snow White.
...or maybe fuel some of those fears!

Once Upon a Zombie Belle.
Dolls can make us laugh...

Fab Faces Kennedy.
Sing...

Singing Elsa from the Disney Store.
Think, and argue.

My Lammily doll, Mia.
They might remind us of the wonderful people and relationships in our lives...

Wildflower Dolls Kate and Tara.

...and can also offer their own form of companionship and loyalty.

Savannah by Maru and Friends.
Trio of American Girl dolls:
(My American Girl #29, mini Kit and Happy Meal Isabelle)
My dolls have been my companions at the beach (many times),

Our Generation mini Kendra.
Double Dutch Dolls' Kaila.
In the woods,

23-inch My Twinn doll, Hazel.
Under the sea,

Lala-Oopsie Sea Horse.
And overseas.

My Makie doll Effie on the train in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I am overwhelmed by the incredible diversity of dolls in the world, and can't wait to see what comes along next.

Cutie Pops dolls.
Dolls fill my house, my memories, my imagination...and this blog.  I hope you enjoy being here and exploring the vast and fascinating world of dolls with me.


Pinkie Cooper's Jet Set Pet, Li'l Pinkie.

31 comments:

  1. OMG! I love this post! You have been such an inspiration to me and it was a pleasure to get to see a glimpse into your life! I love how you combine art and science (my two favorite subjects) together to create a well rounded blog! You're a great blogger/writer and I look forward to each time you post something new. I hope your life brings you as much joy as possible!
    Thanks for all your hard work!

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  2. I loved reading this post and learning about you and your doll collection! I had no idea you had so many different artist/collector dolls! Your reviews are the best out there! I agree that I can never find a good detailed review. Your's certainly meet that standard! :)

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  3. Hi Emily,

    I'm so happy to read a post like this! I've always liked learning more about you personally and I love seeing the parts of your collection that aren't dolls you'd necessarily review. It would be a lot of fun for you to do the occasional "showcase" post where you show us a treasured doll from your collection, but don't do a full review.

    I've been following your blog for a couple years, commented occasionally, but now seems like a good time to tell you how much it has helped me. You really sparked a love for dolls within me and I feel like I've learned a lot from you. More importantly, your reviews have helped me through very hard times. As someone with mental illnesses, your in-depth, detailed, and fair observations are very soothing to read. The mostly neutral tone of voice and consistent set-up of each review (history, deboxing, examination of features, etc) is calming to me, and the pops of your personality shining through makes me feel as if I'm reading the words of a familiar friend. When my thoughts are racing and my mind won't calm down, I'll often reread one of your older reviews on mobile before bed and it will relax me enough that I'm able to sleep. I'm sorry if this is a weird comment, but I really can't put into words how invaluable it is to find something that distracts and comforts me when I'm having trouble.

    Thank you for keeping up this amazing blog and giving us a glimpse into your life! I can't wait to read about more of your doll-related adventures.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, your comment really resonated with me! One of my favourite aspects of reading Emily's reviews is that they give my mind a break from a chaotic, unruly and unjust world. I love how organised they are, with rigorous observations, but in a relaxed, assured style that I find calming and soothing. The mostly neutral tone makes the opinionated and humorous interjections pop out with irresistible appeal, too.

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  4. This post was so much fun! Thanks for sharing a little more of your history with us. It was neat to see how your interests and collections have changed through the years and what inspired them. :)
    I always love reading your reviews. Like you, I appreciate honest reviews which show both the good and the bad of a new doll line. I know that I can come here for an honest look at a new line I'm interested in. I especially appreciate your reviews of more expensive dolls. These are out of my price range for now, so it's nice to be able to get an in-depth look at dolls I would otherwise know nothing about. Plus, it gives me ideas of what to save up for when I have a more expendable income. ;)
    I've enjoyed our chats in the comments section over the years, too. It's been so fun finding another "kindred spirit" in the doll world. ;)
    Here's to many more wonderful years of blogging! :)

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  5. I loved reading this post! I was inspired to start my own blog largely because of how much I enjoyed (and still enjoy!) reading yours. Mine tends to be much more focused in terms of the kinds of dolls I'm interested in, but I still love reading every one of your reviews, even if they're for a kind of doll I don't collect.

    Thanks for keeping up this blog and inspiring me to start my own!

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  6. Wonderful post! Loved everything about it and seeing your collection.

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  7. We love what you do!!!

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  8. I just absolutely loved this about me post. It was so interesting to hear more about how your love of dolls has grown over the years and such a delight to see some of your old blog photos again. I makes me what to go back and read some old favourites again :D

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  9. This was such a brilliant post to read; I always think it's interesting to have a peek into the people behind the reviews, but this was so detailed that it feels like more of that. I've always admired the amount of thought and detail that you put into your reviews and it's wonderful to hear more about what's inspired you to go through all the trouble.

    And what a fantastic selection of photos to go along with it!

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  10. This is such a wonderful post with wonderful pictures and a wonderful perspective on the world of dolls. Thank you so much!!

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  11. This was so wonderful to read, Emily! I agree with what everyone else has said, but I also wanted to add that I enjoy your sense of humor so much. The little blurbs you put in below some of your photos just crack me up. What a wonderful blog you have here and I always enjoy this little corner of the internet. I hope you continue to blog for years to come! :) I almost forgot about that Fab Faces Kennedy, lol!

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  12. Emily, everyday I check to see a new post online from you, and today we are all gifted many times over. Thanks so mUCH for this wonderful view of dolls, your thinking about them, your passion for them, your PHOTOS of them. What a pleasure it is to read. THANK YOU!!

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  13. Hello! I love your doll reviews!
    Have you reviewed the new all vinyl doll by Bo Bergamann? Her name is Trendy. She can be found at Trendy-doll.com She is a slim 18" fully jointed doll.

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  14. Hello! I love your doll reviews!
    Have you reviewed the new all vinyl doll by Bo Bergamann? Her name is Trendy. She can be found at Trendy-doll.com She is a slim 18" fully jointed doll.

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  15. Dear Emily,
    Hello. First found your wonderful blog after making a deposit for a doll like your Rowan.
    After reading about Rowan, I knew it was a good decision. She is a beautiful doll.
    That was last November. Still waiting for my doll.
    But finding your blog has been so much fun. Your reviews have sent me on a search for many
    fabulous dolls. To name a few...Liv Sophie - she is still in her box, Pinkie Cooper, Carla of Paola
    Reina, a custom Cedar Wood by Charlotte of milkleg, a FAO doll factory Madam Alexander, and
    just yesterday Hearts 4 Hearts Lauryce. I am having so much fun!!
    I wanted to tell you about a doll I found. Was searching for Kids n cats, and found an 8" mini.
    She is wonderful. I can see why the larger dolls are so nice.
    Thank you for all your reviews. I enjoy them so much. Keep em coming.
    Barbara Williamson

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  16. Hi Emily,

    Like everyone I love your blog and love this *About me* page too. The doll reviews ( still have a lot I have not looked at yet ) have been really well done and very informative. Its interesting to see the comparisons with other dolls and what other clothes the dolls can wear as well. Also that you point out any of their faults. I have a fair few dolls myself it does depress me though when I know that I will never be able to get some of the dolls here in the UK without them costing loads plus paying again when they get into the country if they are over £18 ( probably lower now ) I do tend to spend more time looking online at dolls most of the dolls I have have come from ebay and I do try and shop around. Here its even hard to find barbie dolls in the charity shops ! Thank you for the hardwork you put into the blog have been really enjoying browsing.

    Jilly x

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  17. i am addicted to dolls so love to read your reviews! keeps me off ebay for a little while!! would love to see tonner patsy dolls in here (one of my favorites!) loved reading about Patience as i just got one! keep up the great work. you are appreciated!

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  18. Hi Emily I love your Toy Box Philosopher. I have been a Black Barbie Doll collector for over 25 years. I am the Founder & CEO of Phenomenal Diversity Dolls.com Can you recommend a good to order get Maine Lobster?

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  19. Emily,
    I 'found' you blog whlie looking for more information about making model knees for my wooden automata, you have a great resource, thank you.

    Presently I am trying to make a running figure with total leg length 1.5" this is my first with fully articulated joints, if you have any ideas of wooden joints?
    In the interest of sharing here are links to two other projects of mine.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdiMe2h-QMo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrTLdqk0bBs
    Mike

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  20. Hi Emily,
    I'm from Canada and feel so lucky to have found your blog. I have been searching the web for honest reviews on the dolls that I am interested in and found yours. I particularily enjoyed and found your review on Saila (Maplelea) doll, very thorough and informative. The photographs are amazingly clear and show us the details of the doll. There is no other review that covers this doll so well.

    Thank you for sharing your passion and opinions for these lovelies. I'm so looking forward to your next review. I would love to see a review on some of the new OG dolls.
    Warmest Regards,
    Diana

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  21. hey Emily,
    I've recently ordered a doll on AliExpress, that claims to be a Kuhn but has what for the most part is a liv body. i just wanted to know if i could review it? keep in touch

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  22. Dear Emily - I'm so excited to have found your blog and particularly to read this post about you. I also loved toy horses and dolls (and stuffed animals) as a child and have many of them still. My granddaughter was a Barbie fanatic (she's just turned 13 and no longer interested) and loved it when I played with her Barbies with her. In return, playing with them inspired me to buy one for myself - then another - and another - and now I am hooked! Then I started branching out - Lottie, Lammily, and I've just ordered my first Momoko and Jenny dolls. My husband thinks I am crazy but he's tolerant. I try to point out to him that I'm not the only one! I'm glad I found you and look forward to following you in the future!

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  23. Hi Emily,
    One of the fascinating and interesting things about your writing - is the way you use both pictures and words to convey an idea. This post is one of the best examples of this talent, and one of the best I read on your blog.
    We miss you.
    Hope you can come back soon
    Tali

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  24. Hi Emily.

    I second all of the above!

    Your blog is full of fantastic writing. Fantastic photography. No doll snobbery. Open to input. Very learning-centric about SO many kinds of dolls (I learned so much!).

    If you like, I can dig up my (unpublished) piece on Mme Alexander's Cissy, her history, her fashion, even a little about her 50s brand of feminist beauty, and how & why she was vanquished by Barbie (Cissy was too big, too expensive ($16-25!!), but oh, the clothes!

    I moved on from studying MmeA to bisque bebés & fashions several years ago.

    Good luck to you, and again, many thanks.

    Jennifer

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  25. Hi Emily!
    I've been a reader for upwards of five years and I love your reviews! It's nice to know as a sixteen year old girl who never grew out of dolls that you can still love and enjoy them as an adult. I was wondering if you could do a review of the Teen Trends dolls from the early 2000's. I've seen a few on eBay and am very curious to see what they're all about. Thanks!
    -Danielle

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  26. What a wonderful post, thank you for sharing. I never grew out of dolls myself, though for years I resisted buying them because the guy I was seeing (now an ex) thought it was "too childish". Uhg. Thankfully, my husband is okay with me having dolls, as long as they don't take over too much of the house :)

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  27. What a (truly) great post for an 'about me.' 'I discovered that dolls don't have to cost hundreds of dollars to be interesting and wonderful." So true...I absolutely love the way you pose the dolls and make 'scenarios...' Fabulous! We could have a good day together!!!! ;-) lg

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  28. Hi Emily,
    I discovered your blog while looking for reviews on 'Kidz'n Catz' dolls which I am planning to buy in the next month or so, then I read this 'About Me' page and am fascinated to read your story through your doll collection.
    You have now inspired me to do the same! For too many years loving dolls and collecting them was seen as 'not cool' or 'not acting your age' and now in my 60ies I am finally allowing myself to buy the dolls I love and connect with other collectors.
    Thanks again,
    Martine

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.